Parents and area officials were excited to learn that the city’s School Construction Authority had approved of a location for a new middle school in Sunnyside, an attempt to reverse increased overcrowding in the area.
The school will be located at 38-04 48th St., according to the SCA and the office of state Sen. Michael Gianaris. The SCA’s capital plan identified a need for seats in the Sunnyside/Woodside sub-district of District 30, and the new school will include seats that have been funded in the plan.
Sean McGowan, a parent from the neighborhood, started advocating for a new middle school about two years ago and said he immediately knew the location could potentially house a new school, though he originally hoped for a nearby parcel owned by the Department of Transportation. A three-story abandoned building is currently occupying the property. It had been previously been a pool hall as well as a gym, and McGowan said he had heard it was, at one point, a typewriter ribbon factory.
“I’m very happy about this and happy about this site. I think it will work,” he said. “We’re very happy and very appreciative that all the local officials worked with us. They went out of their way and we didn’t feel ignored.”
Gianaris said the news of a new middle school was particularly welcome for an area that was seeing children and families moving into the neighborhood at a quick pace.
“About a year ago, local parents organized and came to us to get us involved and we rolled up our sleeves and started advocating,” he said. “We’re just pleased to have good news on this front. There’s going to be a continuing need, but this is a step in the right direction.”
It is still very early in the process, according to the SCA, and definitive details on the number of seats in the school, as well as a time line for design and construction of the facility, were unavailable. There are 824 funded seats in the capital plan for the Sunnyside/Woodside sub-district, according to the SCA.
McGowan said his hope was that the building could be completed in three to four years, and it would likely be dependent on whether the school’s design incorporated the existing building or demolished it for new construction.
“Queens is growing and this is a popular neighborhood,” he said, pointing out that SCA officials were working towards offering solutions to the lack of space. “Are they staying on top of it? With the addition of this school, they’re trying. They’ve at least acknowledged the middle school overcrowding.”